Get Local and Get Found: How To Bring People to Your Church Using Local Search Pages
One of the most important ways to help get your church found online is to claim and develop local search pages.
Every search engine like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! automatically generates a generic local page listing for every business or organization with an address.
As the "owner" of that organization, you are allowed to claim the page as your own and then add content, share information, and receive reviews.
It's actually a pretty easy process. When you're done you'll have six (free) mini-webpages floating around the internet, each pointing people to your church. As an example, here is Redeemer's Google Place Page and Yelp! Page.
This post will show you how to find, claim, and develop your local search pages.
To find all the major pages assigned to your church, including Yelp!, go to getlisted.org. Enter your church name and zip code. Getlisted will show you show you all your listings.
The set up for these listings is pretty much the same. For the purposes of this post, we are going to focus on Google Place Pages. Google is the most popular search engine, the set up is the most user friendly, and you probably already have a Google account, so its a good place to start. Once you follow this process with Google, you can do it with Yelp!, Yahoo Local, Bing, HotFrog, and Best of the Web (and I would do them in that order).
Note: You must be physically in your church to do this! You'll see why in a minute.
Click the link to your Google Place Page. (Sign in or create an account). Google will let you edit the basic information for your listing. Click Publish. This will take you to your Place Page. At the top right of the listing, you'll see a link: "Business Owner?" Click it.
On the next page select "Edit My Business Information" and click continue.
On the next page you can add all kinds of content to the page - pictures, description, business hours, YouTube videos, and any additional details about the church. You can even relocated the marker for your church on the Google Map, if its in the wrong place.
Add as much content as you can. Include worship times and staff members. You don't have to create a bunch of new content. Just pull some of the best content from your website or Facebook page. Click submit.
This is why you need to be at the church. To validate that you are the owner, Google will call you at the church. You'll get a PIN number which you enter into the website. Congratulations, now you own your Google Place Page!
Finally, be sure to ask friends and people from church to leave positive reviews on your site. Positive word of mouth will go a long way to giving a favorable impression and drawing people in.
Good luck! Let me know how it goes!